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Sizzling Summer Reads Heat Up The Romance Review, and Holly Will Be There

Summer’s the time for reading hot stuff on a hot beach, or even sneaking a steamy peek between the pages on your lunch break or over a cuppa. And July is the time for Sizzling Summer Reads at The Romance Reviews. Sizzling Summer Reads is a whole month of fun and games and contests and chances to chat with your favourite smutters, including yours truly. Sizzling Summer Reads is also a whole month of excerpts and blurbs and recommendations of some of the very steamiest summer reads you can get your hot little hands on.

On July 25th, I’ll be making myself comfy in The Romance Reviews erotic lounge http://erotic.theromancereviews.com/thelounge.php to chat about all things hot and steamy with anyone who wants to stop by. And believe me, if you don’t stop by, you’ll be missing half the sizzle. I’ll be talking about The Initiation of Ms Holly, and The Pet Shop, and maybe even a little bit about Lakeland Heatwave. And since you’re familiar with my blog, you can bet we’ll be talking about animal lust and sexy inspiration and erotica as safe sex, and all things hot and humid.

There’s be prizes, there’ll be fun, there’ll be Q&A, there’ll be fab conversation, and a chance for you to get the skinny on the very hottest, most sizzling reads for your summer hols or just to keep the home fires stoked. Sizzling Summer Reads is happening at The Romance Reviews all through July. Stop by any time, but I’ll be in the lounge with the kettle hot and the bikkies ready on July 25 starting at 8:00 am est. That’s just in time for lunch in the UK, so how about a really hot lunch that day?

 

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The Story Behind the Story of ‘To Touch The Knight’ by Lindsay Townsend

 

I’m very happy to have Lindsay Townsend at Hopeful Romantic to share a little of the truly fascinating story behind the story of her exciting novel, To Touch The Knight. Welcome, Lindsay! Do Tell!

Thank you so much, KD, for having me as a guest on your blog today. I’m chatting a bit about my forthcoming romance, ‘To Touch The Knight’, which is due out in July – not long now! KD asked me to cover the story behind the story of ‘To Touch The Knight’, which I’m delighted to do.

In my novel, the heroine Edith presents herself as a strange princess with her own seductive costumes, language and customs. One of my inspirations for this particular desperate deception was a real-life fake from the eighteenth century, the Princess Caraboo.

This ‘princess’ was a young woman who appeared in a Gloucestershire village in 1817, dressed in unusual clothes and speaking a strange language. Upon investigation by the local magistrate, it was discovered she called herself Caraboo and later a sailor said he knew her language and translated her story. Caraboo claimed to be a princess from an island in the Indian ocean, who had escaped after being captured by pirates.

The magistrate, Stephen Worrall, and his wife, took in Princess Caraboo. She lived with them for several weeks, famous and fêted by the local community.

In reality Princess Caraboo turned out to be Mary Baker, the daughter of an English cobbler. When the hoax was revealed due to her picture in the ‘Bristol Journal’ being recognized, the Worralls arranged for Mary to leave for Philadelphia.

Mary did go to America but returned later to England and died there. It was the story of her unusual deception that inspired a 1994 film, ‘Princess Caraboo’ and partly inspired my own novel, ‘To Touch The Knight’.

Taking the story of Princess Cariboo as a starting point, I wondered how it would be if a woman felt compelled by circumstances to undertake a similar deception, in the Middle Ages and with far higher life-and-death stakes, and so Edith was born.

My hero Ranulf  also has his own inner demons to defeat through the story. He is a fighter who must come to terms with his grief at the death of his wife and also a mystery surrounding her death. When Edith and Ranulf come together, they are both in different ways lost souls who find themselves through each other. It’s set against a period of massive trauma and change, too – just after the Black Death of 1348.

The so-called ‘Black Death’  was  known during the Middle Ages as either the plague or the pestilence. It’s now believed there were two main types of plague – bubonic (in which sufferers presented with huge pus-filled tumors or buboes) and pneumonic, spread in the air, which killed in less than three days. Both struck Europe from the far east in 1347, spreading swiftly from Italian ports through Europe and arriving in Britain in 1348. There was no known cure for any of the plagues and over a third of the population died. It was a terrifying time, made worse by the common belief that the disease was a judgment of God.

It was a dreadful time, but for the survivors it was also a chance to better themselves, particularly for peasants, for farm labor was in short supply. Edith decides to use the chance in another way, in order to save herself and her fellow villagers.

Thank you so much for having me today, KD!

I’d like to leave you, if I may, with the blurb and an excerpt from the first chapter of my novel, ‘To Touch the Knight’.

Here’s the blurb:

As a pestilence sweeps medieval England, a low-born woman has only the sharpness of her wits–and the courage of her heart…

Edith of Warren Hemlet plays a dangerous game. At the knights’ tourneys across the land, among the lords and ladies, she is a strange foreign princess. But in the privacy of her tent with the other survivors of her village, she is but a smith’s widow with a silver tongue. They are well-fed, but if discovered, the punishment is death. And one knight–fierce, arrogant, and perilously appealing–is becoming far too attentive…

Sir Ranulf of Fredenwyke cares little for tourneys: playing for ladies’ favors, when his own lady is dead; feasting, while commoners starve; “friendly” combat, when he has seen real war. Still, one lady captivates him–mysterious in her veils and silks, intoxicating with her exotic scents and bold glances. Yet something in her eyes reminds him of home…and draws him irresistibly to learn her secrets…

And here’s an excerpt from the first chapter, where Edith encounters Ranulf for the first time:

Edith was walking with the bundled sheets to the shallow, slow-moving stream when she realized that another was there before her. A man, big and muscled enough for a knight but not in armor, was sitting on the river-bank with his boots off, dangling his bare feet in the clear water.

Large, fine feet they were, too, and very clean. She stood in the shade of a young beech tree, shielded by its fresh leaves, and watched him; this nameless knight. He was new to her, and a pleasure to look upon, with a trim waist and good shoulders. He slowly kicked his legs in the water and she noticed the dark swirls of down on his calves, less lustrous and straighter than his fair-going-to-russet shaggy, badly-clipped hair. She wondered if the tiny dark fish were nibbling his ankles and laughed softly at the foolish idea. He was handsome, she conceded, if long, clean-shaven features as regular as a mason’s new carving of a king were to one’s taste – and they were to hers. On his feet, standing proudly on the daisy and speedwell studded grass, he would be tall as a castle keep, but wiry, with a rangy strength she admired when he skimmed a pebble across the river.

Here’s where you can find Lindsay:

Lindsay Townsend, historical romance. http://www.lindsaytownsend.net

or follow me at Twitter: @lindsayromantic

 

Thanks for stopping by, Lindsay!  It was lovely to have you. ‘To Touch The Knight’ sounds like a fabulous read — even more so now that we know the story behind the story.  I’ll now be waiting anxiously to July to get my copy!

 

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Still Behaving Like Animals

People have always been nervous about the possibility of human nature being nothing more than animal nature all tarted up with a big brain. There’s lots of bristling at the idea that biology might explains us just as easily as it does our animal cousins.

We’ve been wondering for a long time just how thin the line is that separates our behavior from that of those animal cousins. And we can’t ask that question without wondering if civilization is maybe nothing more than a thin veneer we humans wear to protect ourselves from the most dangerous animals on the planet — each other.

Strangely enough in the past few weeks, it hasn’t been The Pet Shop or rutting Siberian beavers on Animal Planet that have me thinking about that thin line and what’s actually going on beneath the veneer. I confess to know next to nothing about neurobiology and even less about the financial world. I write nasty stories. But when penises and testosterone and male biology enter, detrimentally, into the stock markets and the banking industry, I’m suddenly very interested.

I first became aware of the market-testosterone connection while doing my usual scan of the news over breakfast.

In his article for the Observer, Testosterone and High Finance Do Not Mix: So Bring on the Women, Tim Adams gives a brief lesson in ‘neuroeconomics’ and writes about hearing Michael Lewis, author of the book, ‘The Big Short,’ Speak at the London School of Economics. Lewis was asked what single thing he would do to reform the markets and prevent such a catastrophe happening again, and he said: ‘I would take steps to have 50% of women in risk positions in banks.’

Several days later there was an article in the Guardian about the EU calling for women to make up one third of bank directors in an effort to prevent ‘group think,’ which is often blamed for exacerbating the industry crisis of 2008.  According to the article, gender diversity can lessen the problem of group-think, partly because there’s evidence that the leadership style of women is different, that they ‘attend more board meetings and have a positive impact on the collective intelligence of a group.’

When I shared the ‘testosterone’ links with my husband, he sent me a link to a New York Times article, in which Paul Krugman discusses a comment from a post by economist, Kevin O’Rourke, called, ‘What do markets want.’ This is the comment:

‘The markets want money for cocaine and prostitutes. I’m deadly serious.

‘Most people don’t realize that ‘the markets’ are in reality 22-27 year old business school graduates, furiously concocting chaotic trading strategies on excel sheets and reporting to bosses perhaps 5 years senior to them. In addition, they generally possess the mentality and probably intelligence of junior cycle secondary school students. Without knowledge of these basic facts, nothing about the markets makes any sense—and with knowledge, everything does.’

In the animal kingdom, younger males are sometimes ostracized from the community until one of them develops the strength and maturity to wrest the power from the alpha male. In the animal kingdom, the one who gets to breed is the winner. Even our seemingly companionable British robin will fight to the death with a usurping male if it will get him the chance to pass on his genes to the next generation.

I couldn’t help but wonder as I read about hormones and the market running amuck if our cultural queasiness with our animal nature has, once again, come back to bite us in the butt. The drive to procreate, and the sooner the better, may no longer be at the top of our civilized ‘to do list,’ but the biology for it is still there. What better place for young men, not yet mature enough to lead the pack, to play out that possessive, territorial ‘need to breed’ aggression than in the market? As I said, I’m definitely no expert, but it seems to me that  to turn the animal loose in an already testosterone-charged play-ground, complete with expensive cars and high-end sex, and expect him to behave in a ‘civilized’ manner is more than a little bit naïve.

 

 

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Tina Donahue Takes Us Away

I’d like to welcome the lovely Tina Donahue to  A Hopeful Romantic today. Tina  is going to give us a sneak preview of her hot new novel, Take Me Away. And just to celebrate that release, she’s offering a juicy giveaway too good to miss out on. Tina, do tell!

 

Don’t you love the beginning pages of a romance when the hero and heroine first meet? Their smoldering stares, their first words as they size up each other?

I do. That’s one of the parts I like to write most. When neither character quite knows where this might be heading…they just know where they would like it to go.

Usually during these encounters, we – the readers – get to know the characters better, to fall in love with them as they begin the journey of falling in love with each other.

In Take Me Away, my newest erotic romance, Kyle’s reluctant to let Lexi stay at his cabin, while she sees it as her only means to avoid the hounding press. Their first moments alone are telling for what they both think and want.

Here’s a blurb and an excerpt to show you what I mean.

Blurb:

She’s everything he escaped…and all that he desires

Three years ago, Kyle turned his back on a pro-football career and being the target of tabloids or gold-digging groupies. Craving privacy, he gets it at his roadhouse in Northern California until Lexi Sands invades his life. Indulged and surely phony, she’s exactly what Kyle fled.

An actress since childhood, Lexi’s fresh out of an anger management program, court-ordered when she lashed out at a badgering paparazzo. Weary of the press’s harsh scrutiny, she sees Kyle’s secluded cabin as the ideal place to hide out and him as a damn-near perfect alpha male. Deliciously virile. Protective. Principled. She offers him serious cash to let her stay for two weeks, assuring there will be no complications or touching.

Yeah, right. Passion flares, along with tenderness. Kyle recognizes how lonely Lexi really is, while she’s falling hard. Through intimate days and impassioned nights, they explore their most shameless needs, until a cruel betrayal exposes their growing love, forcing a choice neither anticipated.

Excerpt:

Lexi caught his scent, more pronounced this time, delivering a hint of musk. Something needed and desired coiled within her, despite the fact that they’d just met.

A moment passed. Papers rustled as though he was moving or reading them, keeping himself busy, avoiding the inevitable, turning her down.

Lexi’s longing remained even as reality kicked in. Fiona’s plan to help her hide out had been kind, but unreasonable. At least for Kyle. He had a life he enjoyed. He didn’t want her presence and celebrity to screw it up.

Steeling herself for the worst, she opened her eyes.

He was leaning against the edge of his desk, arms folded over his broad chest, feet crossed at the ankles, his gaze on her.

A pulse beat crazily in Lexi’s throat. The sound of her thrumming heart drowned out the puppy’s thin whines and the muffled noise coming from the bar. She expected Kyle to look away as he had in there. He did not. Once more, interest flashed in his eyes – or at least she thought it did.

Remember, her counselor had said, what you want isn’t always what a person is willing to give.

Tell her something she didn’t know. For as long as Lexi could remember, she’d wanted a home life like other kids had. Parents that adored her because she was their child, not for the income she could bring in.

Even after all these years, the truth still wounded. Refusing to let it defeat her, she made her voice light. “So when did you?”

Kyle’s expression went from intent to confused. “When did I what?”

She smiled at the puppy licking her fingers. “Get Baby here.”

His gaze dropped to the dog, then returned to her. “Buddy.”

“Right. Buddy Baby,” she amended.

Kyle laughed.

Pride and contentment rippled through Lexi for having caused it. For having brought back those killer dimples. God, how she enjoyed seeing them and listening to his laughter. So easy and free. So intimate.

A kiss, a fuck, couldn’t compete with a man and a woman sharing a laugh. That’s what bonded two souls. Joy. Happiness. Friendship. Not mere lust.

A second ago, she’d been willing to leave without a goodbye. Now, she wanted to stay, even though she knew Kyle would never like her as deeply as she required. Lexi saw it on his face, in the way his laughter wound down and his dimples disappeared.

Didn’t matter. For a few days, no more than two weeks, she longed to be around a man who couldn’t care less about her fame, who didn’t want to use it to further his own interests. She ached to get away from the craziness, the pain, the loneliness of her world.

“Before you say no, I’m willing to offer five thousand dollars.”

His brows shot up. “Pete said three.”

She was being too needy. Something else her counselor had warned her about. “Okay then, three.” She smiled. “Are you always this easy to negotiate with?”

Kyle’s gaze settled on her smile. His expression became heated, all male.

This time, Lexi knew she wasn’t imagining it. He did find her interesting. The real Lexi, not the tramp she looked like tonight or the Hollywood invention. She saw that truth in his eyes. Excitement raced through her, but she kept it from her voice. “I won’t be in your way at all. I’ll stay in my own room. I’ll only leave it when you’re here or wherever else you may go. I’ll amuse myself outside.”

His gaze turned inward as though he were trying to imagine such a thing. Whatever his thoughts conjured up, pleasure relaxed his features.

Now she had him. “I’ll even take care of Baby for you. I’ll act as his sitter.”

A smile tugged at the corner of Kyle’s mouth. Not enough to make dimples, but surely enough to arouse. “Buddy,” he corrected.

“Sorry. I forgot. Buddy Baby.” Giving the puppy a kiss on his snout, she lowered him to the floor, pushed to her feet and advanced.

Smile fading, Kyle watched.

At his office chair, Lexi stopped. With her right foot on the seat, she slipped her hand into her boot.

Kyle stared at her naked thigh. Her skirt was so short the damn thing practically exposed her ass. From his vantage point, he could see she wasn’t wearing regular panties. Whether she had on a thong was debatable.

His mouth went dry. He pulled in a deep breath, which rewarded him with her alluring rose scent.

I won’t be in your way at all, she’d said. I’ll amuse myself outside.

With those words, he’d pictured the creek behind his cabin. Lexi shedding her clothes and boots on the bank. Sunlight caressing her nudity. The water swirling around her sleek thighs, dampening her bush, licking her cunt. Beads of moisture clinging to the soft swells of her breasts, dripping off the tips of her nipples.

A groan of pleasure and frustration bubbled up. Kyle fought it, remaining silent, not daring to ask what in the fuck she was doing. Adjusting her sock? Removing a rock that had somehow gotten into her boot and was hurting her foot?

His guesses weren’t close to correct.

She pulled out a wad of hundred dollar bills.

In the coming moments, they learn quite a lot about each other, which stokes their interest and passion.

Take Me Away is Available Now!

Buy Link: http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9333-take-me-away.aspx

Email: tina@tinadonahue.com
Website/blog: www.tinadonahue.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/tinadonahue
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000458023097

To celebrate the release of Take Me Away, I’m offering a contest today. One lucky commenter will have her choice of one of my following ebooks**:

1. Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
2. Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
3. Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
4. In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
5. Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT

** Winner chosen at random.

 

Thanks for stopping by, Tina. Take Me Away sounds hotter than hot! And personally, I don’t know how the lucky winner is ever going to choose between these delicious offerings!

 

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Regulating Our Fantasies

The topic of safe sex in erotic fiction comes up all the time amongst writers and readers. I recently had a run-in with someone who was disturbed by the fact that the characters in my novels, and most of my short stories, don’t wear condoms. It’s true. They don’t. They don’t because they live in the fictional world I’ve created, an erotic world designed to play out my fantasies and, I hope, those of other people as well. The truth is that never once have I had an erotic fantasy that involved the use of a condom. I have written a couple of stories in which condoms are used, but in those stories, I didn’t use condoms to make a statement nor to assume that my readers needed reminding that in the real world, safe sex is a must. Rather, condoms played a role in the development of the story.

My stories are my fantasies, entirely and completely the product of my imagination. I’m a firm believer that my readers are intelligent and savvy and very aware of the world around them. I also understand that some people prefer their fiction and their fantasies more realistic. Fair enough. Fortunately for them, there are writers who prefer to write that way. I don’t happen to be one of them.

It’s ironic that the stringent rules and regulations that apply to erotic fiction do not apply to other kinds of fiction. I understand that some of those guidelines in erotica have to do with the publisher knowing the target audience. But In other types of fiction, subjects are covered all the time that are completely forbidden in most standard erotic guidelines for submission, and yet no one expects that readers of non-erotic fiction should need to be reminded that guns are dangerous and murder and rape are wrong.

I have written stories for which the submission guidelines demanded the use of condoms in all scenes involving penetrative sex. I gritted my teeth and wrote what the guidelines dictated. But it seems to me that the message such guidelines send is two-fold. First of all that because erotica is about sex, it’s automatically more dangerous than other types of fiction, and secondly that readers of erotica are just not as smart as readers of other types of fiction and they must have extra instruction and guidance to equip them for the reading of such dangerous material.

Do we really believe that people are more ignorant where erotic literature is concerned, and more likely to cause themselves and others harm than they are if they read any other kind of literature? Do we really believe that if the character in a story has a gang bang without the use of condoms that the reader will automatically think this must be what sex is all about, and go out and try it for her or himself?

Erotica is, by its very nature, the place where the reader can experience for him or herself what would never be considered safe in the real world, what, given the opportunity to do in the real world, given the opportunity to participate in, her or his response would be an unequivocal ‘No thanks.’ Is it any different than a thriller or a horror story, or an adventure novel?

The whole point of a novel is to live vicariously a life that one wouldn’t have the opportunity, and more than likely wouldn’t even want to live, if one did have the opportunity. Commercial fiction is all about vicarious thrills and vicarious experiences from the safety of our own home. That’s why reading is so much fun.

I believe readers should be given credit for discernment, credit for being as savvy about the differences between erotic fiction and reality as they are about the differences between other kinds of fiction and reality. I’m not saying that fiction can’t be didactic. And indeed part of the beauty of fiction is that it offers the inadvertent opportunity to learn something new. What I am saying is that I tell stories. I tell stories for fun in a world that, I think, could use more fun. If there are lessons taught, they come about inadvertently while I’m having fun telling a story. But I don’t feel a deep burning need to tell my readers to do what they already know to do, what they’ve been aware of every moment of their lives from the time their old enough to understand that the world is a dangerous place. And sometimes the world adults must live and function in can be a boring place as well. If they’re like me, and I assume at least some of them are, that dangerous world, that boring world, is a very large part of the reason they enjoy fiction so much.

And they enjoy it while they continue to stop for red lights and level crossings, while they continue to treat their fellow person with respect, and while they continue to practice safe sex, all without having to be reminded that these things are for their own good.

 

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The Romance Reviews

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